Canadians are not sitting back any more and taking bad corporate behaviour. We may have arrived at a tipping point where increasingly Canadians who have been shoved, are pushing back. The RBC "fire Canadians" story broke on a weekend. By the start of the week, politicians had heard from constituents across Canada. Over in Bangladesh, a garment factory collapsed in Rana Plaza, killing more than 700. And just because a videographer caught a glimpse of a Joe Fresh clothing label and some editor put that on Canadian television, suddenly Canada's best-known retail leader, Galen G. Weston, was all over the media.
The price of a piece of clothing is not at all indicative of the working conditions of its manufacturer. On top of that, implying (or outright saying) that there is something morally wrong with paying ten dollars for a t-shirt is incredibly classist. The truth is that when brand names charge higher prices for their items, that extra cash usually goes to two places: into the pockets of CEOs and other higher-ups, and into the company's advertising budget.
Let's stop asking whether a company should stay in Bangladesh or leave the country. Instead let's ask whether that company is willing to take steps to create stable jobs that are safe, where workers have the right to organize, and where they receive a living wage.
Last week more than 300 garment workers in Bangladesh died, forcing Canadians to take a hard look at where their T-shirts and yoga pants come from, how they were made, and by whom. It's easier for a small-to-mid-sized company such as us to source at home. But can you manufacture ethically overseas?